MCTM 2019

I hadn’t been to the Minnesota Council for Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM) conference since my first year teaching.  Both of my experiences at MCTM have been drastically different and special for different reasons.  It’s fun for me to think on my experience both years, how different they are, and how much I’ve grown since that first year.


I went with my dad who is also a math teacher.  The first presentation I went to was led by a former colleague of my dad’s.  When I was in elementary school, I actually went to a session she led at MCTM on making kaleidoscopes. (As a little girl, my mom and I would “go” to math conferences with my dad.  While he was at the conference, my mom and I would hang out.  We went up to Duluth numerous times and along to a couple (Orlando and Anaheim) of national conferences he went to because we LOVE Disney!)  It was a cool experience to go to her session again, this time as a teacher.  I remember my dad saying how she likes to present at conferences and wondered why on earth anyone would want to do that?!


I was now presenting at the conference, and while pretty nervous about it, I was also pretty excited to be doing it and to give back in that way to a community who has poured into me so much.


My dad went to a session and heard about this thing called Desmos.  He thought it was pretty cool, so later I went to a session on it by Christopher Danielson, who at the time I had NO idea who he was.


Christopher was one of the first people I saw at the conference, and he congratulated me on being selected to be part of the 4th cohort of the Desmos Fellowship this summer.


The only other teacher I knew up at the conference that year (other than my dad) was one of my friends from my time at Bethel.  She strongly encouraged me to go to a session by this amazing person she knew from one of her summer jobs -Sara Van Der Werf.  Her session literally changed my life as a teacher.


I was presenting at the conference because of Sara.  I had applied to be a Desmos Fellow because of Sara.  I am on a committee for MCTM because of Sara.  I am involved in the MTBoS because of Sara. I now consider Sara a friend, and yes, it was up to me to say yes to those things, but Sara has definitely nudged me (sometimes multiple times) and has encouraged me in so many different things.

Well, that was definitely not how I envisioned this recap post going, but it was definitely fun for me to think back on my experiences.  So, now on to the recap of MCTM 2019.

The keynote this year was Fawn Nguyen!  Fawn was in MN last summer, and it was so fun to see her again!  After her keynote, I attended her workshop.  She scolded me for being there since a lot of what she shared was the same information I had heard last summer, but it’s FAWN!  I just love her and wasn’t going to miss it.  Plus, it’s always good to hear information a second time as I pick up new things I missed the first time.  I shared here what I learned from her time with us last summer.


Laura Wagenman, Fawn, and me

Laura and I presented after lunch on Friday.  I was SO thankful to go on Friday to get it out of the way so I could enjoy the rest of the conference.  I was also grateful for a friend’s co-worker who insisted on taking a picture of Laura and I before it started.


I shared the information from our presentation here.  Now that I’m a few weeks out from the presentation, one thing I didn’t realize about presenting is how much I would grow and learn about estimation as a result of presenting on it.  I’ve already seen several positive changes in my own practices because Laura and I gave this presentation.

If I’m being honest and vulnerable, sessions on equity and social justice have never been ones that I find myself circling as ones to attend when I’m going through a conference program.  I’m new to the conversation, and I’m still working to understand what this looks like for me teaching in a rural school in a predominately white community.  However, I know that I need to educate myself more on this topic, so I’m trying to pick at least one session related to social justice or equity when I attend PD.

Friday after my session I went to a presentation on Blindspots and Implicit Bias with Barb Everhart and Lesa Clarkson.  Their resources can be found here.

Then I attended Steve Weimar’s session on Notice and Wonder.  Steve talked about how the fact that Notice/Wonder is becoming a “thing” almost makes him uneasy -that we want students to realize that “noticing” and “wondering” is what propels their thinking and that we don’t want that to get lost when we ask students to notice and wonder.

Steve brought up a couple ways of using Notice/Wonder that I hadn’t thought of before.

  • Having students Notice/Wonder on both ends of their thought/problem solving process.
  • Using Notice/Wonder as a teacher with student work and focus on student thinking, NOT if students are right or wrong and then do interventions based on the Notice/Wonder.


I’m looking over my notes from this session, and they’re pretty pathetic.  I wrote down two videos to look up but I don’t know why I wrote them down or even how to find the one from Chris Nho.

  1. Why is 2 > 4? from Max Ray-Riek
  2. Chris Nho ShadowCon (I think this might be it?)

Saturday morning I went to a session from Jess Strom on The Thinking Classroom.  If you aren’t following Jess on Twitter, take care of that now!  She is amazing and shares so many awesome things she is doing in her classroom.  She is also my region director and does so much for MCTM and is just an overall awesome person!


The Thinking Classroom is definitely something I want to learn more about.  All of her resources from her presentation including a link to a video to watch the presentation can be found here.  Here are some tidbits from her session.  I won’t go into great detail on anything from here because you can click the link in her presentation to watch the entire thing, which you definitely should do!

  • More resources:  Laura Wheeler sketch notes, Thinking Classroom podcast, Making Math Moments Matter podcast
  • When a student asks her a question she often asks back, “If you knew what to do, what would you do?”
  • She did a notice/wonder with her students where she first gave them 3 equations, had them notice/wonder, and then had them graph the equations on Desmos before noticing and wondering again.  I loved this!
  • When her students are working at the whiteboards she will sometimes do what she calls a “workshop” if groups are stuck.  She’ll have one person per group come over to her, she will give a quick conversation with them (ask what students have tried and guide them in the right direction without telling them what to do) and then send them back to their groups.  I tried this with my class the next day and loved it! One of my students told her partner who was at the “workshop”, “I want a detailed report of what was discussed.”

I also had time throughout the weekend to catch up with my friend from college (the one who introduced me to Sara) as well as my cooperating teacher from when I was student teaching.


Belle is such a sweet friend, and I was so thankful for the time to catch up with her at the conference.


Brian has been such an amazing supporter of me from the very first day I stepped into his classroom.  It was so great to share stories of experiences we’ve had in our classroom this past year.

That weekend in Duluth was just what I needed to get me through the last month of school.  I left with my heart full and definitely so thankful and proud to be a part of this Minnesota math community.

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